Hamilton Conservation Authority City of Hamilton Bruce Trail Conservancy


Borer's Falls - Rock Chapel

General Summary

The Borer’s Falls-Rock Chapel natural area includes a southeast-facing, forested segment of the Niagara Escarpment along the boundary between the former municipalities of Flamborough and Dundas. The area extends for 5 km, from Sydenham Road to Highway 6. The central feature is the escarpment valley created by Borer’s Creek as it descends the escarpment face.


Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Designation:
• Regional Life Science ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest)
• Regional Earth Science ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest)

City of Hamilton Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) Criteria:
• Significant Earth Science Feature

- the area encompasses part of the provincially significant Niagara Escarpment landform and key geological exposures

• Significant Ecological Function
- the area serves as a link between the large Cootes Paradise natural area and the Niagara Escarpment
- the area contains significant species
- the area contains interior forest habitat (100-200m from forest edge)
- the area contains rare biotic communities (old growth forest on escarpment rim)
- the area contains a high diversity of native plant species


Physical Description

The steep upper escarpment is 25 to 30 m high (175 to 205 m elevation) and includes sub-vertical rock faces. This area includes a number of significant bedrock exposures, including the Sydenham Road cut at the western end, which demonstrate lateral changes in the thickness and lithology of a number of geological units, including the facies change between the Lockport Formation and the Amabel Formation.

Regional groundwater flow is southeast towards Hamilton Harbour-Cootes Paradise. Borer’s Creek drops over the escarpment at Borer’s Falls in the central part of this study area. Hopkins Creek, a tributary of Borer’s Creeks arises along the escarpment east of the Borer’s Falls, and joins the main creek above the York Road crossing.

Ecological Land Classification

This study area encompasses a forested southeast-facing segment of the Niagara Escarpment. The Borer’s Creek escarpment valley and forested lower escarpment slopes are considered representative escarpment communities. The warm, dry micro-climate of the talus slope woods supports many significant species; this community is considered of regional significance. Moreover, coring of Eastern White Cedar trees along the cliff-edge located a small area of old-growth cliff-edge forest; this community appears to be unique in Hamilton and is also rare in Ontario.

Flora and Fauna Summary

Vascular Plants

The escarpment rim, face, and slope forests in this area provide habitat for many significant species including the largest single population of Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), a locally and provincially rare and a nationally endangered tree species, in Canada. A total of 407 species have been recorded from this area. Of these, 74 are significant species, 15 are prairie/savannah species and 37 are Carolinian species.


A total of 43 species have been recorded for this area, including seven locally uncommon species and two locally rare species, Northern Cloudy-Wing (Thorybes pylades) and White Admiral (Basilarchia arthemis arthemis).


Fish were assessed here between 1991 and 2000. In total, 15 species have been collected with 13 species recorded since 1990. Two species, Pearl Dace and Rainbow Trout, are considered uncommon in the City of Hamilton. Borer’s Creek flows over the Niagara Escarpment at the northern edge of this natural area. As groundwater from the talus slopes is added to the stream, it changes from a warmwater to coldwater system while flowing through this steep, forested area.


Six species were recorded from 1984 to 1991, including the locally rare Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus).


Breeding Birds

Nature Counts surveyors recorded 36 species in 2001 and 2002. Of these, 10 are locally uncommon species and four are interior forest species. The portions of this area owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens have been widely inventoried for birds. Before 2001, a total of 61 species were found in this area including 29 locally uncommon species, one locally rare species, Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis), and two locally, provincially, and nationally rare species, Louisana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) and Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens).


The Nature Counts project conducted small mammal trapping in the fall of 2001. Six species were recorded.



  Copyright © 2022 Hamilton Conservation Authority - Hamilton, Ontario, Canada